Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 – The role of women (2)

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law.

Having abated the disturbance both from the tongues and from the prophesyings; and having made a law to prevent confusion, that they who speak with tongues should do this in turn, and that they who prophesy should be silent when another begins; he next in course proceeds to the disorder which arose from the women, cutting off their unseasonable boldness of speech: and that very opportunely. For if to them that have the gifts it is not permitted to speak inconsiderately, nor when they will, and this, though they be moved by the Spirit; much less to those women who prate idly and to no purpose. Continue reading Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 – The role of women (2)

Contemplation on the 6th hour of Holy Wednesday (1)

The soul heated like a burning fire will not be quenched until it is consumed; a man who commits fornication with his near of kin will never cease until the fire burns him up. 17 To a fornicator all bread tastes sweet; he will never cease until he dies" (Sirach 23:16-17)

Youthful lust is wild, but requires many governors, teachers, directors, attendants, and tutors. After all these, it is happiness if it is restrained. For as a horse not broken in, or a wild beast untamed, such is youthful lust. But if from the beginning, from the earliest age, we fix it in good rules, much pains will not be required afterwards; for good habits formed will be to them as a law. Let us not suffer them to do anything which is agreeable, but injurious; nor let us indulge them, as forsooth but children. Especially let us train them in chastity, for there is the very bane of youth. For this many struggles, much attention will be necessary. Let us take wives for them early, so that their brides may receive their bodies pure and unpolluted, so their loves will be more ardent. He that is chaste before marriage, much more will he be chaste after itl and he that practiced fornication before, will practice it after marriage. "All bread," it is said. "is sweet to the fornicator." (Sirach 23:17) Garlands are wont to be worn on the heads of bridegrooms, as a symbol of victory, betokening that they approach the marriage bed unconquered by pleasure. But if captivated by pleasure he has given himself up to harlots, why does he wear a garland, since he has been subdued?

Who is Saint John Chrysostom?

Doctor of the Church (A.D. 407)

Introduction

Saint John Chrysostom's life gives us a sense of the awesome cost of Christian discipleship and of the truth that with God all things are possible. This incomparable teacher, on account of the fluency and sweetness of his eloquence, obtained the surname Chrysostom, or Golden Mouth.

His Earlier Life

He was born about the year 347 at Antioch in Syria, the only son of Secundus, commander of the imperial troops. His mother, Anthusa, who was left a widow at twenty, divided her time between the care of her family and her exercises of devotion. Her example made such an impression on her son's master that he could not forbear crying out, “What wonderful women are found among Christians!'' Anthusa provided for John the ablest masters. Eloquence was esteemed the highest accomplishment, and John studied that art under Libanius, the most famous orator of the age; and such was his proficiency that even in his youth he excelled his masters. Libanius being asked on his deathbed who ought to succeed him in his school, “John'', said he, “would have been my choice, had not the Christians stolen him from us.''

According to the common custom of those days young John was not baptized till he was over twenty years old, being at the time a law student. Soon after, he suddenly turned against the teachings of Libanius and decided to become a monk. He attended a school for monks under Diodorus; and in 374 he joined a community of hermits among the mountains south of Antioch. He passed four years under the direction of an old Syrian monk called Hesychius (quietness); and it was quietness that he wanted to deaden the pain of his mother's death, to put away the temptations of Antioch, to bury forever his love of physical pleasure. Later, he decided to practice self-mortification in a cave as a solitary. He denied himself sleep, read the Bible continually and spent two years without lying down. The result was inevitable; his stomach shrivelled up and the dampness of this abode damaged his kidneys. His digestion permanently impaired, unable to doctor himself, he was obliged to come down the mountain and walk to Antioch in 381. Shortly afterward he was appointed as an acolyte and then received priesthood.

His Early Service at Antioch

The aged Bishop Flavian constituted him his preacher when he was about forty, and he remained in this office for twelve years. The instruction and care for the poor he regarded as the first obligation of all, and he never ceased in his sermons to recommend their cause and to impress on the people the duty of almsgiving. Antioch, at the time, had 100,000 Christians and as many pagans; these he fed with the word of God, preaching several days in the week, and frequently several times on the same day. He had no care in the world except that Antioch should be brought to Christ, but in the middle of his preaching came the crash of tragedy.

In the tenth year of the reign of Theodosius (the fifth of that of Arcadius his son, the same year that Saint Augustine received baptism from the hands of Saint Ambrose in Milan) Antioch rioted against a newly levied tax. The mob revolted, tore down the statues of the Emperor and waited breathless for the punishment — the destruction of the city. In spite of his age, Bishop Flavian, a man of eighty years, set out in the worst weather and made his way through eight hundred miles of snow to Constantinople, to implore the imperial clemency for his flock and the Emperor was touched by his appeal; an amnesty was accorded to the delinquent citizens of Antioch.

During the absence of Bishop Flavian, during the Lent of 387, Saint John could not contain himself seeing the executions of the Antiochenes. He began to deliver a long series of sermons known as “On the Statues'' in which he said very little about the statues. In those twenty one homilies, he spoke of God's mercy, how there are things far more dreadful than death or slavery, and his hope that the people should embrace death, if they had to, or life, with equal courage. He says of Flavian “God will not suffer this errand to be fruitless. This is the holy season. This is the season when we remember how Christ died for the sins of the world. Flavian will remind the Emperor of the prayer `Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them who trespass against us.' He will bring to his memory that in this city the faithful were first called Christians by name. Let us assist him with our prayers; let us supplicate; let us make an embassy to the King who reigns above, an embassy of tears. And remember how it is written of repentant Nineveh, `God saw their works,' `They turned every one from their evil ways, and the Lord repented of the evil that he had said he would do unto them.''' Saint John kept excoriating the people for their past vices, their addiction to wealth, their love of the theatre, their sensual enjoyments. If they had lived more strictly, they would not have behaved like wild beasts, and if they were true Christians they would have not possessed this abject fear of the Emperor.

These staggering homilies delivered daily kept the flock together and hope filled the air despite the continuing tortures and imprisonment. After the storm he continued his labors with unbeaten energy, but before very long God was pleased to call him to glorify His name upon a new stage.

Archbishop of the See of Constantinople

Nectarius, Archbishop of Constantinople, died in 397, and the Emperor Arcadius, at the suggestion of Eutropius, his chamberlain, elected Saint John for the see of the city. He therefore dispatched an order to the count of the East, enjoining him to send John to Constantinople, but to do so without making the news public. The count repaired to Antioch and desiring the Saint to accompany him out of the city to the tombs of the martyrs, he there delivered him to an officer who conveyed him speedily to the imperial city. Theophilus, Archbishop of Alexandria, had come thither to recommend a nominee of his own for the vacancy; but he was forced to enthrone Saint John on February 26 in 398 as Patriarch of Constantinople. He who hated power was now in the seat of power. He who fought against luxury and despised the kings of this world lived in a luxurious palace close to that of the Emperor.

It was from that time that he was the unwilling victim of all those who feared his power. From this point onward he assumed the fiercer colors of Constantinople. He began to sweep Constantinople with his broom. He emptied the episcopal palace of the costly plate and furniture and sold the newly purchased marble columns and built a hospital with the money. He reformed the life of the clergy who, within three months, were up in arms against him.

After a tumultuous horse race held on Good Friday, attended by many Christians, he delivered a sermon “Against the Games and the Theatres.'' He ridiculed the wealth of Constantinople: the marble floors dusted with gold, the rich carpets, the silver couches, the ivory doors and the golden horse bits. He objected strongly to dancing girls and singers who accompanied the bride and the bridegroom home after a Christian marriage, singing indecent songs. He objected as firmly to female mourners at funerals, wailing dirges. He spoke against slavery and on behalf of the equality of women. He must have known that the weapon would one day be turned against him for his exhortations seemed in their severity to have been lacking tact.

The Empress Eudoxia, who previously sent magnificent gifts to the churches and the poor and spent long hours listening to Saint John, turned against Saint John when he was wrongly accused of referring to her as “Jezebel''. Knowing the sense of grievance entertained by Theophilus of Alexandria, Eudoxia, conspired with him to depose Saint John Chrysostom in 403. For three days Constantinople was in uproar, after which Saint John surrendered himself and was exiled but soon to return after an earthquake shook the city. Then again, a silver statue of the Empress was erected before the great church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), to which Saint John objected and spoke loudly against. He was deposed again two months after Easter and was banished. He spent the last three years of his life from exile to exile where his health suffered from many illnesses. He uttered his last words, “Glory be to God for all things'', and gave up his soul to God on September 14, 407. His body was returned to Constantinople in 438 with great glory, while the Emperor Theodosius II and his sister were begging forgiveness of their parents who had so blindly persecuted the servant of God.

Sermon on the Resurrection by Saint John Chrysostom

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

If any man is a devout lover of God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man is a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of the Lord. If any has labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any has wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any has come at the third hour, let him have no misgivings; because he will in no wise be deprived thereof. If any has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any has tarried even until the eleventh hour let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; He give rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as to him who has wrought from the first hour. And he shows mercy on the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he giveth, and upon the other he bestoweth gifts. And he accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering.

Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast you all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go away hungry. All of you, enjoy the feast of faith: receive all the riches of loving-kindness. Let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shone forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He who was held prisoner of it, has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, he has made Hell captive. He angered it when it tasted of his flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was angered, when it encountered You in the lower regions. It was angered for it was abolished. It was angered, for it was mocked. It was angered, for it was slain. It was angered for it was overthrown. It was angered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen. O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the Angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

Prayers: St. John Chrysostom’s Hourly Prayers

1. O Lord, deprive me not of Thy heavenly blessings;

2. O Lord, deliver me from eternal torment;

3. O Lord, if I have sinned in my mind or thought, in word deed, forgive me.

4. O Lord, deliver me from every ignorance and heedlessness, from pettiness of the soul and stony hardness of heart;

5. O Lord, deliver me from every temptation;

6. O Lord, enlighten my heart darkened by evil desires;

7. O Lord, I, being a human being, have sinned; do Thou, being God, forgive me in Thy lovingkindness, for Thou knowest the weakness of my soul.

8. O Lord, send down Thy grace to help me, that I may glorify Thy holy Name;

9. O Lord Jesus Christ, inscribe me, Thy servant, in the Book of Life, and grant me a blessed end;

10. O Lord my God, even if I have done nothing good in Thy sight, yet grant me, according to Thy grace, that I may make a start in doing good.

11. O Lord, sprinkle on my heart the dew of Thy grace;

12. O Lord of heaven and earth, remember me, Thy sinful servant, cold of heart and impure, in Thy Kingdom.

13. O Lord, receive me in repentance;

14. O Lord, leave me not;

15. O Lord, save me from temptation;

16. O Lord, grant me pure thoughts;

17. O Lord, grant me tears of repentance, remembrance of death, and the sense of peace;

18. O Lord, grant me mindfulness to confess my sins;

19. O Lord, grant me humility, charity, and obedience;

20. O Lord, grant me tolerance, magnanimity, and gentleness;

21. O Lord, implant in me the root of all blessings: the fear of Thee in my heart;

22. O Lord, vouchsafe that I may love Thee with all my heart and soul, and that I may obey in all things Thy will;

23. O Lord, shield me from evil persons and devils and passions and all other lawless matters;

24. O Lord, Who knowest Thy creation and that which Thou hast willed for it; may Thy will also be fulfilled in me, a sinner, for Thou art blessed forevermore. Amen.

The Nativity Sermon

"I behold a new and wondrous mystery!

My ears resound to the shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but loudly chanting a heavenly hymn!

The angels sing!

The archangels blend their voices in harmony!

The cherubim resound their joyful praise!

The Seraphim exalt His glory!

All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead herein… on earth and man in heaven. He who is above now, for our salvation, dwells here below; and we, who were lowly, are exalted by divine mercy!

Today Bethlehem resembles heaven, hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices and, in place of the sun, witnessing the rising of the Sun of Justice!

Ask not how this is accomplished, for where God wills, the order of nature is overturned. For He willed He had the powers He descended. He saved. All things move in obedience to God.

Today He Who Is, is born ! And He Who Is becomes what He was not! For when He was God, He became man-while not relinquishing the Godhead that is His…

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him angels, nor archangels, nor thrones, nor dominions, nor powers, nor principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His incarnation has He ceased being God. And behold kings have come, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven; Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of childbirth into joy; Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin…

Infants, that they may adore Him who became a little child, so that out of the mouths of infants He might perfect praise;

Children, to the Child who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod; Men, to Him who became man that He might heal the miseries of His servants;

Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd who was laid down His life for His sheep;

Priests, to Him who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek;

Servants, to Him who took upon Himself the form of a servant, that He might bless our stewardship with the reward of freedom (Philippians 2:7);

Fishermen, to the Fisher of humanity;

Publicans, to Him who from among them named a chosen evangelist;

Sinful women, to Him who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant woman;

And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

 

Since, therefore, all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice! I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival! But I take my part, not plucking the harp nor with the music of the pipes nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ!

For this is all my hope!

This is my life!

This is my salvation!

This is my pipe, my harp!

And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels and shepherds, sing:

"Glory to God in the Highest! and on earth peace to men of good will! "

Disciplining and raising children – Part III

21. Tell me, which trees are best? Do we not prefer those that are inwardly strong, and are not injured by rainstorms, or hail, or gusts of wind, or by any sort of harsh weather, but stand exposed to them all without fences or garden to protect them? He who truly loves wisdom is like this, and his riches we have already described. He has nothing, yet has everything; he has everything, yet has nothing. A fence does not provide internal strength, nor is a wall a natural support; they provide only artificial protection. What is a strong body? Is it not one that is healthy, whether hungry or surfeited, cold or warm? Or is it something that is dependent upon restaurants, tailors, merchants, and physicians for health? The truly rich man, the true lover of wisdom, needs none of these things, and that is why the blessed Apostle admonishes us to bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Continue reading Disciplining and raising children – Part III

The colt & the resemblance

Realize how obedient the colt was, how being unbroken and having never known the rein, did not resist but went on orderly. This was the prophecy of the future, signifying the submissiveness of the Gentiles, and their sudden conversion to good order. For all things did that word work, which said, “Loose him, and bring him to me” so that the unmanageable became orderly and the unclean, clean.

Contemplation on the 11th hour of the Eve of Thursday (1)

Glorify Him; flee from vainglory! (John 12:44-50)

Why do you adorn your body, while your soul is neglected, possessed by uncleanness? Why don't you care as much about your soul as you do for your body?..

What madness is this! Shift this adorning within, put these necklaces about your soul. The things that you put around your body help neither to its health nor to its beauty, for it will not make black white, nor what is ugly either beautiful or good looking. But if you put them about your soul, you will soon make it white instead of black; beautiful and well favored instead of ugly and unsightly. The words are not mine, but those of the Lord Himself, who said, "Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow." (Isa. 1:18) 

Contemplation on the 3rd hour of Great Thursday (1)

Why did He keep the Passover?

To indicate in every way and until the last day that He was not opposed to the law. And for what possible reason does He send them to an unknown person? To also show by this that He might have avoided suffering. For He had the power to change the minds of those who crucified Him. So it is once again clear: He is willing to suffer. 

Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:12 – The role of women

“Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in [through the] child-bearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

Great modesty and great propriety does the blessed Paul require of women, and that not only with respect to their dress and appearance: he proceeds even to regulate their speech. And what says he? “Let the woman learn in silence”; that is, let her not speak at all in the church; which rule he has also given in his Epistle to the Corinthians, where he says, “It is a shame for women to speak in the church” (1 Cor. xiv. 35.); and the reason is, Continue reading Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:12 – The role of women

Contemplation on the 9th hour of Holy Tuesday (2)

Wars and Rumors of Wars (Matt 24:6)

He is speaking of wars in Jerusalem…for there are many wars and calamities in the world at large, which have always been and will always be. For before this, were wars, and tumults, and fights. But, He speaks of the Jewish wars coming upon them at no great distance, for henceforth the Roman arms were a matter of anxiety. Since then these things also were sufficient to confound them, He fortells them all.

Become an agent of peace

Untitled document What are you saying? "Shall I forgive him?" Christ is saying, "Yes!" This sacrifice was instituted for the sake of peace with your brother. Accordingly, if the sacrifice was instituted for the sake of peace with your brother, but you do not establish peace, you partake of the sacrifice in vain, the work has become of no profit to you. Do first, then, that for the sake of which the sacrifice is offered, and then you will properly enjoy its benefits. The Son of God came down for this purpose, to reconcile our human nature to the Lord. But He did not come down for that purpose alone, but also for the purpose of making us, if we do likewise, sharers of His title. For He says: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Mt. 5:9). You, according to human capacity, must do what the Only begotten Son of god has done, be an agent of peace, for yourself and for others. For this reason, at the very time of sacrifice He recalls to us no other commandment that that of reconciliation with one’s brother, showing that it is the greatest of all.